Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kitten!

Dad and I were trucking down the highway and we both saw him at the same time. A teeny kitten sitting forlornly on the side of the road! Dad stopped the car and backed up to pick him up. This little kitty just sat there looking confused and let Dad pick him up. He handed him to me and we realized the kitty was injured. He was still actively bleeding from wounds to his nose, mouth, and one paw. One eye was swollen shut! There was a box nearby and we assume he must have been literally thrown out of a car right before we got there. Poor baby!

Into the car we jumped and raced over to the local Animal Rescue...who shook their heads at us. Nope, they could not take a wounded kitten. And they warned us that a cat with even minor injuries would be put to sleep by the local pound. Oh, the poor kitty! So I said that I didn't want to see him die and Dad forked out the cash for a quick vet visit. The vet gave some antibiotics and pain killers and said this cat was only about 10 weeks old.
With a little food and some TLC the little guy is doing much better. His wounds are healing and he is the sweetest little cat! We're calling him Happy Cat because he never stops purring!
We already have 2 adult cats with us! Help!!! We don't need another CAT!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homecoming


I have found The Numero Uno, Nicest, Most Beautiful Rest Stop Ever! We've seen a lot of rest stops and this one outshines them all. Well, they couldn't do anything about the noise of the trucks parking next to you but other than that... It is just north of Lubbock, TX on I-27. This place had two buildings with very clean, very modern restrooms. I mean, I've seen resorts with shabbier bathrooms than this place!


Each building and picnic area had security cameras inside and out. Inside one of the buildings I found a small museum area. It wasn't anything too exciting, just information about farming in Texas and Texas history but it was still interesting. They also had FREE Wi-Fi! You could take your notebook computer out to a nice shaded picnic table and surf the web. They had several picnic pavilions with BBQ pits and nice stone tables. Our picnic area even had a windchime! Seriously! Mood enhancement while you rest, picnic, and surf the net.


I'm not saying you should go to Lubbock just to see this rest area. Lubbock itself has very little of interest. But if you have to pass through here it is a really, REALLY NICE rest area! I wish Arizona would get a whiff of this. Just for comparison, here's an Arizona rest area...


And the next one was closed, too. NEVER plan to stop at a rest stop in Arizona. They're ALL closed!

After 5 days on the road we finally made it to Abilene and are semi-boondocking in my parents' driveway. We have 20 amp electric and unlimited water refills so its not really boondocking. We're totally living it up here! Last night we watched Avatar on their nice big TV and today we went to the gym and swam! And I can do all the laundry I want in Mom's machines for FREE!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Petroglyph National Monument


We were not allowed to get close to the petroglyphs at Petrified Forest so we decided to make a stop at Petroglyph National Monument in the heart of Albuquerque. Here the petroglyphs are not behind fences or chains, you can reach right out and touch them! There are over 20,000 petroglyphs covering the black volcanic rock in the area. Although no one knows for sure what they mean some of the drawings may relate to tribal folk tales, others are representations of animals, plants, and shapes. Some of them looked like cartoons to me!


This next one has a snake at the top, some arrows, maybe stars?, and other odd shapes.


It was fun to guess what the pictures were meant to be. Is this a rat stealing a lollipop?!


We noticed that at both sites we saw hand and footprints etched into the stone. We wondered if this was the Native Americans' version of a self-portrait, just like modern kids writing "Joe wuz here!" Another thing we saw over and over again was a spiral shape. A Ranger at Petrified showed us one that was positioned so that when a ray of sun came through a crack in the rock to land on the spiral it signaled the Summer Solstice. Cool!

While we were hiking on a narrow, rocky path up the mountainside a huge storm blew in and the wind started howling!


The wind must have been gusting up to 40 or 50 mph! It was just trying to blow us off the mountain and of course we had both worn flip flops. Here is a picture of me hiding from the wind; it's blowing my hair straight back!


We made it home okay and next time we will remember to wear tennis shoes!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Petrified Forest National Park

We're on the road again and heading towards Texas. Yesterday we stopped at Petrified Forest National Park in East Arizona. I had no idea that Petrified Forest would be so stunning! It is a very RV-friendly park with parking for RV's at almost every point of interest. Even so, we decided we would enjoy the visit more if we parked the motorhome at the Visitor Center and took the Jeep through.



The Painted Desert overlooks a beautiful view of desert plains and hills which do appear as a watercolor with shades of pink and red, greens, browns, and grays.



There are Native American ruins and petroglyphs which were really neat but unfortunately you have to stand on a lookout point several feet above the petroglyphs so you can't really examine them too well. The landscape changes further into the park into a fantastical area of striking blue and purple mesas! I've never seen anything like it. Even the desert floor appeared to be made of a cracked blue chalk! I loved it!


At the southern end of the park you begin to enter the Petrified Forest where thousands of pieces of petrified wood litter the ground like rocks. They have been fossilized by minerals that seeped into the wood and hardened into brilliant reds, mustard yellow, pink, purple, and green. Silica is another mineral in the wood which has hardened into quartz crystals. These are beautiful veins of jewels in a rainbow stone. On most pieces you can still see the grain of the bark and the rings from the heartwood.



Petrified Forest National Park was certainly the most colorful landscape I have ever seen! The whole place feels like a fairy land!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The GRAND Canyon!

The Grand Canyon was everything I had dreamed it would be!  It was Stunning, AWE-inspiring, and Magnificent!  This was a trip I've been looking forward to for many years.  We actually tried to visit the South Rim in December 2009 but had to turn around due to bad weather.  Finally, we made it!


We visited the North Rim and spent a night tenting in their campground.  The North Rim is the lesser visited rim because it is very far from any major cities or interstates.  There is only one highway that goes into the park.  We were glad we had left the motorhome and decided to tent it when we found that the highway into the park has miles and miles of climbing hills.  The motorhome could have made it of course but we would have spent an awful lot on gas!  The drive takes you through an area known as the Kaibab plain where the wildflowers were in full bloom.  The one city, Jacob Lake, consisted of a campground and a gas station.  I asked the employees at the canyon where they go for groceries and learned that they drive a hundred miles to Kanab, Utah!  It gives a new meaning to the word "remote".



Like most campers we started out at the North Rim Lodge and Visitor Center.  There is a deli, a fancy restaurant, and a gift shop.  It even has its own Post Office!  We walked to Bright Angel Point and Chris was able to do some work while perched on the rim - luckily he was able to get a cell signal by shooting across the canyon to the tower on the south side!  Generally we actually had better cell service at the Grand Canyon than we've had while working at Coral Pink.   We hiked to Bright Angel Point then went back to the campground for burgers.  We brought beers and chairs to the rim to catch the sunset.  It got pretty chilly at night at this elevation so we were glad for the warm sleeping bags we got ourselves for Christmas! 


The next day Mom and Dad had to head home to Texas but Chris and I stayed all day.  We drove out to Cape Royal - a 25 mile drive that was well worth it!  This area of the Grand Canyon was much less crowded and actually even more beautiful!!!

From this higher viewpoint you can see all the way across the red rocky canyon to the South Rim where miles of green expanse fade to purple mountains in the remote distance.  Here the colors of the canyon were intense; lines of green and red and gray and pink marched across the stark landscape.  Trees the size of pinheads stud the canyon walls and floor and the Colorado River appears as a shining ribbon in the distance.  I apologize that photos cannot capture the vibrancy of the scene.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Melissa's Parents Visit!

My parents have driven in from Texas to visit us for a few days!  They are also here to see the beautiful scenery in Utah and that's great too! 
Over the weekend we made a brisket to celebrate their visit and were able to offer some Utah folks their first taste of Texas style BBQ.  Imagine, folks who've never heard of brisket!  Yesterday Mom and Dad helped us clean campsites and bathrooms and then we went up to Zion National Park for the rest of the day to see the sights.  It was a very hot day and we enjoyed soaking our feet in the cold river.  Later this week Mom and Dad are going to join us on a camping trip to the Grand Canyon; the North Rim is only a hundred miles from here.  I'm especially looking forward to the Grand Canyon - I've been dreaming of visiting it for years!  It's the epitome of wide open spaces which is what I was fervently wishing for when I worked in a windowless cubicle!  After the Grand Canyon we only have one more week to work at Coral Pink and then we'll be heading back through Texas to visit family and friends who we have missed so much!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Coral Pink

I took this sunset shot here at Coral Pink Sand Dunes where we are currently working and living.  See how the sand really does look pink?  Only at sunset, though.  The rest of the time it's closer to orange.


Here is our RV space - we have a big campsite with a covered pavillion, fire pit, BBQ, and full hookups.


The weather is hot by day and cool by night.  We really hate to run the AC when we don't need to so Chris recently installed a ceiling fan to bring in some of that nice cool outside air.  It starts to cool off around 6 pm and by 10 pm if you're outside you are probably changing into pants or a long sleeved shirt. 

Cedar Breaks National Monument


We recently visited another National Park.  Cedar Breaks is a small canyon with formations similar to those we saw at Bryce Canyon.  It is at an elevation of about 10,000 so the weather was still nice and cool with a high temp of 68 degrees!  They've had snow as recently as a few weeks ago.  There were even a few patches of snow still on the ground so we got to make snowballs in July! 


We went on a nice hike through the forest to Alpine Pond.  We really enjoyed hiking in the trees; seeing trees and grass was a much appreciated change of pace from the desert. 



Cedar Breaks was just starting its spring wildflower show; there were beautiful fields of yellow, blue, purple, and pink!  We enjoyed playing with the macro setting on the camera; we took lots of pictures of the flowers!